BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
Some traditional and community leaders in Mashonaland East province have called on the Registrar-General’s Office to decentralise and stop the habit of going into the rural areas during election periods.
Speaking during public hearings held in Marondera recently on challenges people are facing in acquiring national documents, the leaders said many children and youth do not have birth certificates and national identity cards due to inaccessibility of the RG’s offices in most rural areas.
An elderly man from Wedza South said those in need of the documents were forking out an average of $40 one way to Wedza Business Centre, which they can hardly afford.
In the process of airing their concerns, the village heads inadvertently exposed how the ruling Zanu PF party at times uses State institutions to win votes in rural areas, an allegation the party constantly refutes.
“There is need for the RG’s Office to move into the rural areas so that people acquire the necessary documents easily. We only see the RG’s Office during election time only; that is when they move into the villages. They should do this frequently so that it will be easy for the people,” said a villager who declined to be named.
“We used to have the Registrar’s Office at Mukamba, but it was closed, forcing people to travel to Wedza Business Centre where they fork out about $40 one way.
At times if you get there, they will demand witnesses meaning there is need for more kombi fares for more people, which is impossible.”
It was also revealed that a number of children are failing to write their Grade 7 examination resulting in a number of them dropping out.
“We have children without birth certificates in our area and it is difficult for them to access education. You can negotiate with the school authorities for a child to be enrolled in the Grade 1 class, but the problem will resurface when he or she is about to write Grade 7 examinations. We have some who are talented in sport, but cannot compete against others due to lack of documentation,” said one of the witnesses.
Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission deputy chairperson Ellen Sithole confirmed that long distances are affecting people in the province as far as acquiring national documentation is concerned.
“The main challenges people are facing in accessing national documents in Mashonaland East province include long distances that people have to travel to access RG’s Offices, especially in Beatrice and Wedza. There is also lack of birth confirmation records as a result of home-based deliveries, especially in farming areas,” she said.